Beth, the story of a child convict – book review

Don’t you love a coincidence? Miss 9 discovered that her class would be studying Australian convict history on the same day that my lovely Mum and I went to a book launch for Mark Wilson’s latest picture book, Beth, the story of a child convict.

It’s based on the true story of Elizabeth Hayward, a child convict who was convicted for stealing a dress and a bonnet, and sentenced to transportation on board the ship, Lady Penrhyn.

This is the story of Beth and Molly, the small daughter of a convict who died during the voyage. Once they reach Australia, Beth and Molly work as servants for the ship’s surgeon. He keeps a diary, and there are a few extracts in the picture book, which provide extra historical details.

Beth and Molly dig a vegetable garden, but the vegetables don’t grow and there is not enough food.

When Molly becomes sick from dysentery, Beth carries her to the hospital but there is no help for Molly.

Mark based the journal entries from Mr Brady on the journals from the Lady Penrhyn naval officer surgeon, William Bradley. He showed us examples of William Bradley’s handwriting, which he imitated for the journal extracts. Mark claimed that handwriting hadn’t changed much in over two hundred years!

Mark showed us his research boards, and we saw examples of his illustrations as works in progress. Mark used acrylic paint and pencils for the illustrations.

This book is a perfect trifecta – interesting story, incredible illustrations and information for Australian history projects!



Author interview – Victoria Carless


Terri Dixon

It’s wonderful to have such great books to enhance children’s learning and make history “come alive”.

Mark Wilson also has equally good books if you are looking for some Anzac Day literature.

Terri Dixon.

April 15, 2016 at 7:58 am


Sounds very interesting.

April 15, 2016 at 3:01 pm

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